What do iTunes U schools want from Apple?

The word in the blogosphere is that Apple is looking at "community feature requests" for iTunes U and has added some staff to their team (Hurrah!).

According to The Unofficial Apple Weblog, among the most requested features is on-site storage. In other words, schools want to store files on their own servers rather than use Apple's servers. That might seem surprising to some of you, but I have always noticed here at NJIT that the IT folks have this thing about keeping file on campus. Still, the initial half terrabyte of storage that Apple offered us as an iTunes U school seemed to me to be a selling point - free storage, free bandwidth, backup by Apple...

The blog entry notes that the number one request is DRM - digital rights management. That thing that students and the public hates about music files and that created the peer-to-peer networks like Napster, Kazaa, LimeWire, Morpheus et al to get arounf DRM.

They say it is "the deal-breaker for the majority of universities that had been approached about iTunes U and refused."

TUAW is "speechless" hearing that. I'm not.

For all my years in instructional technology at NJIT, a constant has been faculty concern about "protecting their intellectual property" for online courses - DRM for their PowerPoints, PDFs and materials.

I understand that idea and concern. What I sometimes have a problem with is their idea of what is their property. I've seen PowerPoint slides that were essentially a rehash of textbook chapters. I've seen PowerPoint presentations that came with the textbook and have been changed around by the professor. Is that your intellectual property? You'd have a problem with that one in court. Still, the prof wants all that behind a password (say in WebCT with authentication).

On TUAW, they conclude that if Apple is dedicated to the project and the one of the biggest stumbling blocks seems to be DRM, it will happen.


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